Community Voices - Charles Horton

Posted by Brooke Ortel
Brooke Ortel
Brooke Ortel is a first-year student and prospective Environmental Studies majo
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on April 29, 2014 in Community Voices

Optimized-Charles Horton Image 2Mr. Charles Horton, Oberlin resident and entrepreneur, is the proprietor of Custom Cleaning Services located in the Industrial Parkway. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Mr. Horton came to Oberlin more than thirty years ago “with the intent of starting a business.”

Q: What words or images would you use to describe Oberlin?

A: Images to describe Oberlin…Nice, small, quaint place to live.

Q: How is it that you came to open your business in Oberlin? Are you a lifelong resident?

A: No. I moved here from Detroit, Michigan. And I came here with the intent of starting a business.

Q: Why did you choose to open your business here?

A: Small town. I just thought that starting a business in a small town would give me…a little faster opportunity to grow the business.

Q: Could you briefly describe the nature of your business and its function in the community here?

A: We offer a full service janitorial company. We also specialize in fire and flood cleanup. So we do a lot of residential work here in town; we do a lot of commercial work here in town. Many of the businesses in town are my customers. Once upon a time, when the Industrial Parkway was full, we had all the customers on the Industrial Parkway.

Q: The word sustainability can be used to describe actions that promote the economic, social, and environmental well-being of a community. What does sustainability mean to you as a resident and business owner?

A: Sustainability is important for the community, it’s important for the downtown, and it’s important for the folks that patronize and live in the community. It’s good that anything that we want we can go right downtown or we can have that service here versus having to go outside of the community to get what we want.

Q: Do you think sustainability is a relevant factor in making business decisions?

A: Yes, I would say yes.

Q: How do your beliefs about sustainability influence your business model and your business practices?

A: Well, if many of the customers in Oberlin are in existence, the sustainability is important to me because those are my customers. If those customers leave the community, then I’ve lost a customer, so it’s very important that everything in Oberlin stay as it is. And Oberlin needs to be a place that is willing to grow…because that’s also new potential customers for me.

Q: What advice would you offer to other business owners who want to try to be more sustainable?

A: I think we need to do as much as we can to diversify; we need to be able to offer in our services what folks are willing to purchase.

Q: What sorts of economic development would you like to see in Oberlin in the future?

A: I would like to see the Industrial Parkway grow. It’s important for the community. Folks in the community need a place to work and there just need to be more good jobs on the Industrial Parkway. 

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Brooke Ortel is a first-year student and prospective Environmental Studies major. She is from Block Island, Rhode Island and runs cross country and track at Oberlin.


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